We know that brewing was an established practice as early as 4300
BC, from which time Sumerian cuneiform tablets
beer making have been found. The sumerians brewed beer from barley
and offered it to their gods and kings as sacrifice.
Beer also played an important part of Egyptian life and was commonly used
as medication. Many social customs, for example courtship
rituals, revolved around beer.
In ancient Babylon there existed around 20 different varieties of
beer and the quality was regulated by a royal decree (the Code of
Hammurabi). The Babylonians exported beer to areas as far as 1000
kilometers away and used beer as kind of currency.
But the secrets of beer brewing seems to have been discovered
independently in other parts of the world as well, especially in
areas where grapes didn't grow well and wine production was
impossible. In Africa millet, maize and cassava was used, in
North America persimmon, in South America corn, sweet
potatoes, and in Asia rice, sorghum and wheat. The egyptians
made their beer strictly from barley, which is weel suited for beer
brewing, but not for baking due to its low gluten content. This
leads us to believe they may have been grown exclusively for brewing
The first European beer seems to have been made around 1000 BC at Geno
Lleida in Catalan Spain. Beer brewing in Germany, started around
200 years later. We also know that the Chinese produced a beer
called 'kiu' by the year 23 BC.
In the 11th century hops was introduced in the brewing process, providing more flavour and bitterness in the finished brew.
By the 13th century , beer making had grown to become an important
industry in Austria, Germany and England.
Many monasteries began brewing their own beer, using
scientific methods. This developed into a very lucrative side
business for many cloisters and special taprooms where they could sell
their beer were established. Several beers (for example Chimay is
still brewed by monks.
During Henry VIII's reign in England during the 1530-ies, the
monasteries in Britain were dissolved. Instead, the control over the
beer passed to the farmers and landed gentry, who
established brewhouses to produce beer for their farmworkers and
staff. These brewhouses then developed into full-blown
Beer trade became more important, and commercial brewing grew
significantly over the next centuries. British brewhouses produced
mostly ale, while their German counterparts
concentrated on lager, which was possible due to the low
temperatures in the Alp region (the process of bottom-fermentation
requires temperatures of 5-10 degrees Celsius).
In 1516, the German Duke Vilhelm IV of Bavaria enacted the
Reinhetsgebot (purity law), which declared that only hops, barley and
water could be used for brewing beer, a law which is till enforced to
Beer brewing seems to have been a high priority to the European
immigrants who started new lives in North America. There
is a story of how the passengers on the Mayflower were forced ashore
earlier than expected because the beer supply was running
low. Famous men like William Penn, Samuel Adams, George
Washington and Thomas Jefferson were in fact also brewers.
In 1842 the first mass-produced German lager (made possible by
modern refrigeration equipment) was brewed by Josef Groll and Johann
Eisner in Plzen, a beer which became known as Pils or
Pilsner. Immigrants from Bavaria brought with them the new methods
to America, where the lager became popular and began to outsell
ale by the turn of the century.
Only 160 out of (2300) American breweries survived the
13 years of prohibition. A great deal of brewing expertise and
tradition was lost during these years and some experts argue that this
is why the american lager, while popular (over 97% of the beer sold
in the USA is pale lager), is so tasteless and thin compared to
Anheuser-Busch was founded in 1852 in St. Louis by George Schneider and
is today the world's largest brewery, despite being treatened with
financial troubles early on. In 1876 Budweiser was
introduced (and many say this was a Bad Thing).
However, European breweries are still doing good, and the
microbrewery trend has revived some of the beer culture in the
US. In 1971 the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) started in Britain
in order to save the ale breweries, and similar
organizations have been established throughout